At a time in her life when she should be relaxing at home surrounded by loved ones, an 87-year-old woman instead chose the drama and tension of court in her efforts to settle a long-standing family feud.
Qheho Ntopo is convinced the plot in Maun’s Boseja ward, where she lives with one of her daughters and has called home for the best part of 20 years, is rightfully hers.
The old lady insists she gave her son, Keletso Makgetho, 62, the sum of P3, 500 back in 2002, on the understanding that she was buying the land from him.
Furious that her boy never changed the plot into her name, Ntopo dragged him to Maun Customary Court last week, urging Kgosi Bringle Dithapo to force him to put pen to paper and sign over the land.
“The least he could do is to divide the plot so that I get the other half. But he does not want to do so; instead he wants me and his sisters to vacate. I have been residing at the plot for those many years, albeit for a short period I stayed in Sepopa,” lamented the elderly woman.
Outlining her argument in detail, Ntopo said the P3, 500 was part of the bride-price she received when her grand-daughter got married ‘years and years’ ago.
“I gave it to Keletso as payment for the plot,” she said.
In his defence, Makgetho, who has spent much of the last two decades living in Selibe Phikwe where he works, denied selling the plot but confirmed receiving the cash from his mum.
Instead, he is adamant the money was to buy building materials.
“Sometime back when I returned from Phikwe, I found my mother staying at my plot. She told me she had moved from Sepopa and come to Maun to nurse her ailing brother, but when he got better he told her to leave as he wanted to get married. He could not stay with her when he was bringing in a wife. That is how she ended up at my house,” explained Makgetho, adding he allowed his mother to remain and asked his two sisters, who were already in Maun, to move in with her.
“By then they were still awaiting allocation of plots because they were on the landboard’s waiting list. They have all been allocated the plots but none of them want to develop their plots and move out,” he noted, trying to keep his tone respectful as his mother strained to hear every word.
Makgetho admitted he was shocked and slightly hurt to receive the court summons, especially considering all he has done for his mum and siblings.
Becoming slightly emotional, and unable to look his aging mum in her cataract-heavy eyes, he said, “I know I am not my mother’s favourite.
“She has always looked at me with spite but I do care about her. I cannot kick her out at her age, she has no means to build her own house and that is why I am saying I will pay back her P3, 500, but she can continue staying in the yard.”
However, he remained defiant on the issue of changing the plot’s ownership, refusing to budge on the matter.
“I never sold it to her in the first place. I bought building materials with the money as when the old woman moved in there was only one room in the yard. I then went back to Phikwe with intention to build another room later on, but my mother used the material to build another room whilst I was away. I let it pass because she is my mother after all!” reasoned Makgetho, adding he has a wife and children of his own whose future he also needs to consider.
Deliberating over the issue, Kgosi Dithapo ruled in favour of the defendant, deciding that the land should remain in his name.
The Chief did, however, order Makgetho to repay the P3, 500, which the relieved son said he was happy to do.
An unimpressed Ntopo, meanwhile, grumbled that she did not want the money but the plot.